A Swedish movie poster reminds us that Santa Clarita plays a leading role in America's favorite export business.
Just as Hollywood makes more money from foreign screens than domestic ones today, films shot in the SCV in the
1950s, and earlier, played just as well in Scandinavia and the rest of the world as they did at home.
Swedish insert-size poster, 28x12¾ inches (70cm x 32cm), on thin parchment. Printed in Stockholm.
American inserts of the period tend to feature more graphic art than 4-color photographic art; the same seems to hold true here. And
like American inserts, this one was originally folded in thirds when it was sent to the movie theater — in this case the
Roxy, in an unidentified Swedish city.
The film was released as "Attentatorn" ("The Assassin") in Sweden on Nov. 22, 1954 — nine years to the day
before the assassination
of President John F. Kennedy.
With exteriors and some interiors filmed in the Santa Clarita Valley in April 1954, "Suddenly"
captures downtown Newhall at a moment in time and preserves it on celluloid.
Famous scenes from the film were shot with
Frank Sinatra at the Saugus Train Station — and also inside it, in scenes featuring Sterling Hayden — when the depot was
still in its original location in Saugus, on the east side of Bouquet Canyon Road, about 2 miles
north of downtown Newhall. The station was moved to SCV Historical Society headquarters at Heritage
Junction Historic Park (inside William S. Hart Park) on June 24, 1980. The picture also gives us a good look inside
the M&N Market, a grocery and dry goods store.
Written by Richard Sale and directed by Lewis Allen, "Suddenly" is a thriller that
sees the tranquility of a small town marred by Sheriff Tod Shaw's unsuccessful courtship of widow Ellen Benson,
a pacifist who can't abide guns or those who use them. But violence descends on Ellen's household willy-nilly
when the president of the United States is supposed to pass through town. Hired assassin John Baron finds the Benson home ideal for an ambush.
Note that the home of local Dr. William and Mary Ross at 22906 8th St. in Newhall
doesn't actually overlook the train depot. House interiors were shot on a sound stage.
The 1954 United Artists picture was produced by Robert Bassler and stars Sinatra as
Baron, Hayden as Shaw, James Gleason as Pop Benson, Nancy Gates as Ellen Benson,
Kim Charney as Peter "Pidge" Benson III, Willis Bouchey as Dan Charney, Paul
Frees as Benny Conklin, Christopher Dark as Bart Wheeler, James Lilburn as Jud Kelly,
Kem Dibbs as Wilson, Clark Howat as Haggerty, Charles Smith as Bebop and Paul Wexler as
Slim Adams. Also appearing are John Beradino, Richard Collier, Roy Engel, Ted Stanhope,
Charles Wagenheim and Dan White.
Susan Davy writes (1-26-2017): "My husband [Jim] and I have lived in the 'Suddenly' house on 8th Street  for over 41 years, and for most of those years I have tried to establish what actual local house might have been used for the interior and front yard filming.
"I think because the panoramic shot or view of the exterior and the driveway and the garage shot of our (Ross) house used in the movie, our local historians just assumed our house interior was used for the film. My parents [father was Newhall pharmacist Ralph Williams] were very close with Dr. Bill and Mary Ross, and over the years, our two families spent a lot time at each other's houses — several times a week. Our two families actually had a picnic on the property when the groundbreaking commenced.
"Unfortunately, the 'Suddenly' interior and frontage shots used are not our house. Among the obvious different things are the front door, covered front porch, distance from front door to the street, vacant land and traffic across the street from the front door; the interior walls are not adobe; fireplace, kitchen, flooring, windows, wrought-iron door hinges and handles, etc.; general layout of interior used is not ours. … It may have been done in a studio."
Davy adds that Ken Charney, the boy who portrayed Pidge in the movie, went on to become a surgeon. He practiced in the city of Orange, Calif.